Futurebrand: Bhutan’s happiness concept will now be used to promote brand Bhutan, according to a strategy that a Singapore-based branding consultant, FutureBrand, has come up with.

FutureBrand’s chair of Asia-Pacific operation, Susie Hunt, said it was important to trace where the concept of happiness fits best, instead of just painting a sketchy image of happiness.

Be it in terms of values or economy, she said, branding would provide the country to articulate what makes Bhutan special.  But, this, she said, should be aligned with the national objectives.

To make the matter be taken seriously, it was also recommended that a Brand Bhutan board be formed directly under the supervision of the prime minister, and the task assigned to the Gross National Happiness Commission.

“This is because brand Bhutan sits above all the departments and connects across all departments,” she said.

However, the officiating economic affairs secretary, Sonam P Wangdi, suggested that the task be assigned to the recently launched better business council, which is also chaired by the prime minister.

Although not concrete, the consultant has already drawn up the strategy, including several logos and tag lines under which Bhutanese products and services would be exported.

For instance, tags like ‘happily made in Bhutan’ or ‘happily grown in Bhutan’ are embedded in diamond shaped logos emanated from traditional arts.

The intention, according to the consultant, was to harmonise all products and services under one unified country brand.  For that matter, the tourism logo with the blue poppy was found not stretching across all sectors, and a change was proposed, with the tag line ‘happiness is a place’ intact.

However, this proposal met with strong resistance from tourism officials, who asked for more discussion.

The second phase of the strategy will focus on product identification, followed by accreditation and certification authorities.

Simplicity, coupled with quality, consultants pointed out, could be the best way to increase demand and enhance export.

For instance, apples packed in raw wooden boxes, with a ‘Grown in Bhutan’ logo inscribed on the box, would make it look attractive and natural.

Susie Hunt said the country could use FutureBrand’s offices and presence across the globe as ‘trade ambassadors’ to promote the brand.

The economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk, said brand Bhutan must support FDI growth, export promotion and tourism for the country’s economic self-reliance.

However brand Bhutan must stand for authentic truth, he said, and build on the legacy of the country’s past, while capturing the aspirations of future.

By Tshering Dorji